Songs for a Better Future
April 20, 2012 9:25 PM   Subscribe

What are the most comforting songs? I'm thinking along the lines of Bob Marley's Three Little Birds ('Every little thing/ is gonna be all right").

I'm putting together a playlist to help a friend get through a challenging time. He is comforted by songs like Three Little Birds. What are some other songs with messages that point to a brighter future, healing, empowerment, etc.?

Generally, I'm looking for any songs that promote a positive message to uplift someone going through a very difficult time.
posted by airguitar2 to Media & Arts (90 answers total) 160 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ooh Child (Things Are Gonna Get Easier) by The Five Stairsteps
posted by jrossi4r at 9:31 PM on April 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Walk Unafraid" by REM.

"That I Would Be Good" by Alanis Morissette

"Rainy Day Parade" by Jill Sobule
posted by hermitosis at 9:32 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I Shall Be Released" by Nina Simone
posted by hermitosis at 9:34 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are MANY versions of "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret. I really love this soul version from Alice Clark.
posted by hermitosis at 9:39 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I Can See Clearly Now", by Johnny Nash
posted by cardioid at 9:41 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Genesis, by Grimes makes me feel great.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:46 PM on April 20, 2012


Israel Kamawakawiwo'Ole - Somewhere Over the Rainbow
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 9:48 PM on April 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Errr, make that Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 9:49 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lots of great choices in this very similar question.
posted by waxpancake at 9:51 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


For me it would have to be "Goodnight Moon" - by Said The Whale

""Que sera sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future belongs to me
And I belong to you""
posted by 70klicks at 10:02 PM on April 20, 2012


James Taylor/Carole King: You've got a friend.
Lots of people: Come Rain or Come Shine
Polyphonic Spree: Light and Day (Follow the Sun)
Queen: You're my best friend
posted by Gilbert at 10:05 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Last one:
Beatles: Here comes the sun
posted by Gilbert at 10:08 PM on April 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


There's the Mountain Goats singing "I will make it through this year..."
posted by salvia at 10:10 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This may be a bit more melancholy than you want, but Peter Gabriel's Don't Give Up is just lovely.

Erin McKeown's We Are More is probably perfect. I can't find anything on YouTube that replicates the bouncy feel of the album (We Will Become Like Birds), but look for it on Spotify or what have you.

This morning I saw a glimmer of hope
In the eyes that I met at the door
Of separate futures and confident sutures
To the wounds that we have endured

You hate the words of war, but baby face it!
That's what it's been for us
We were never good fighters or very good soldiers
But through this we are more

It's victorian this embroidering ordering and
Sorting of memory to museum quality
In a box we are, we are and we're art
For the victims and tourists to see

And this victory we're part of is part and
Parameter of all that has come before
We were never good fighters or very good soldiers
But through this we are more

What's the harm in ruins, reminds us of who
We were in darker times
In the pieces of colonies, we'll find that we follow
A church of our own design

By our best, we're remembered, baptized we surrender
By air, by water, by shore
We were never good fighters or very good soldiers
But through this we are more
posted by elizeh at 10:37 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cat Stevens - I Think I See The Light
posted by Mizu at 10:55 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Weezer: Island in the Sun
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:14 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Desmond Dekker—You Can Get It If You Really Want
posted by jann at 11:22 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Little Wonders by Rob Thomas never fails to soothe me.
posted by Defying Gravity at 11:31 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blackbird - The Beatles (this is the Sara McLachlan cover, the original of course is also wonderful)

Johnny Cash singing the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein You'll Never Walk Alone

This may not work for your friend, but every time I've put together an uplifting mix The Weight (by The Band, the version from The Last Waltz) must be on it.

Hold On by Alabama Shakes

In the Colors by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals

Hey, Snow White by The New Pornographers

Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:53 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's really long (over 30 minutes), but I almost always feel uplifted by Pharoah Sanders' "The Creator Has a Master Plan."
posted by jann at 12:10 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Brand New Love, Sebadoh
posted by alex_skazat at 12:10 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Coast by Patrick Stump has gotten me through some rough moments.
posted by whitneyarner at 12:11 AM on April 21, 2012


Also, I personally find Stereolab's "Motoroller Scalatron" to be really really uplifting, but ymmv.
posted by jann at 12:45 AM on April 21, 2012


Up the Wolves, by the Mountain Goats.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:49 AM on April 21, 2012


Modest Mouse - Float On !
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:50 AM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


DJ Shadow's This Time (I'm gonna try it my way)
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:51 AM on April 21, 2012


The Bare Necessities
posted by sianifach at 12:54 AM on April 21, 2012


I actually have such a playlist on my MP3 player and it's called "Every Little Thing's Gonna Be Alright!" I listen to this playlist often and it always makes me feel at least a little better. Here's some songs off it:

"Make Your Own Kind of Music," Cass Elliott

"Power of Two," Indigo Girls

"Build A Little Birdhouse In Your Soul," They Might Be Giants

"Touch Of Grey," The Grateful Dead

"You Got It," Roy Orbison

"Time Is A Healer," Eva Cassidy

"Iowa (Traveling 3)," Dar Williams

"Across The Universe," (I like the Fiona Apple version best.)

"Beautiful World," Colin Hay (This one is sort of a mixed bag. It makes ME feel calmer, but maybe not other people.)
posted by Aquifer at 1:04 AM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Roy Orbison - You Got It
The Four Tops - Reach Out
posted by smallvictories at 1:08 AM on April 21, 2012


Not sure if this works for your friend, but I find the song 'Gabriel' by Lamb very comforting, calming and relaxing. It is not particularly upbeat though.
Gabriel - Lamb
I can fly
but I want his wings
I can shine even in the darkness,
but I crave the light that he brings,
revel in the songs that he sings
My angel Gabriel

I can love
but I need his heart
I am strong even on my own,
but from him I never want to part
He's been there since the very start
My angel Gabriel
My angel Gabriel

Bless the day he came to be
Angels' wings carried him to me
Heavenly!
I can fly
but I want his wings
I can shine even in the darkness,
but I crave the light that he brings,
revel in the songs that he sings
My angel Gabriel
My angel Gabriel
My angel Gabriel
posted by travelwithcats at 1:15 AM on April 21, 2012


Gonna get better by Gabrielle

High by Lighthouse family

All I need, Air

Brighter day , Ronny Jordan
posted by oenzemain at 1:20 AM on April 21, 2012


Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World.

The Beatles It's Getting Better All the Time.

Sunny Days -- the Theme from Sesame Street

Also I'll put another vote in for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but I prefer the version by Me First and the Gimme Gimme's.

And, although the songs don't have words, listening to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass always makes me smile. I especially like A Taste of Honey.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:29 AM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Foo Fighters - Walk
posted by XhaustedProphet at 1:30 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some of the old Disney songs really do the trick:
"When You Wish Upon a Star"
"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"
posted by valannc at 1:43 AM on April 21, 2012


All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
posted by TheOtherGuy at 1:57 AM on April 21, 2012


Ry Cooder - Always Lift Him Up
posted by pete_22 at 1:57 AM on April 21, 2012


Ain't Got No Troubles - Eden Brent

Ain't Got No - Nina Simone

Graceland - Paul Simon
I love the line "I have reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland."
posted by bunderful at 1:59 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey Jude
posted by DarlingBri at 3:14 AM on April 21, 2012


Lift Me Up - Jeff Lynne
Waterloo - Abba
Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves
Don't Even Think About It - Hermione Hennessey
I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
True Colors - Cyndi Lauper
Put Your Records On - Corrinne Bailey Rae (and the first line starts with "Three little birds..."
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher - Jackie Wilson
posted by Prof Iterole at 3:17 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brokedown Palace.
posted by Cocodrillo at 3:25 AM on April 21, 2012


Lean on Me - Bill Withers
You Can Make it if You Try - Sly & the Family Stone
Don't Worry Baby - Beach Boys
Protection - Massive Attack
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
posted by kittydelsol at 4:09 AM on April 21, 2012


Alright For Now - Tom Petty
posted by christinetheslp at 4:36 AM on April 21, 2012


What I listen to when I need a hug.

There Goes the Fear - Doves
September - Earth Wind and Fire (I just can't stay sad listening to or watching that video)

(and my secret shame, Uptown Girl - Billy Joel)
posted by arha at 4:50 AM on April 21, 2012


Gordon Bok, Turning toward the morning. "The world is always turning toward the morning." It's a lovely tune with encouraging words. He wrote the song for a friend who'd had a difficult year. Many times I've listened to Gordon Bok's rich baritone, with Ed Trickett and Ann Mayo Muir singing harmony, and it has always lifted me whether I needed it or not.
posted by sevenstars at 5:03 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hush by Afroman

I'm so glad that trouble don't last always

posted by frobozz at 5:43 AM on April 21, 2012


Morning has Broken
posted by callmejay at 5:46 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


When the Night Feels my Song by Bedouin Soundclash
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:29 AM on April 21, 2012


A lot of the ones I was going to add have already been listed

* Given to Fly - Pearl Jam (very optimistic lyrics and feel triumphant music). This is my most favorite optimistic song

* What a Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong (the Joey Ramone version is good, too)

* Drifting- Pearl Jam

* Don't be Shy- Cat Stevens

*A lot of The Decemberists songs are very catchy : Legionnaire's Lament, Los Angles I'm Yours, 16 Military Wives, O Valencia ect.

also, very much agree with Here Comes the Sun and some of the others listed
posted by eq21 at 6:31 AM on April 21, 2012


Chillout (ze frank)

I will (beatles song, I like this Alison Krauss version)
posted by HuronBob at 6:41 AM on April 21, 2012


Tears in Heaven is both soothing and heartbreaking. I love clapton's version, but Tuck and Patti do a wonderful job with it.

A year after my 20 year old son died, Clapton lost his 4 year old son (from a fall from a 53rd floor window). Tears in Heaven resulted from that event. It helped tremendously as I dealt with my own grief.
posted by HuronBob at 6:46 AM on April 21, 2012


You're In A Bad Way - Saint Etienne is like a big mug of milky tea.

Unusually thoughtful and positive hip-hop:
Strive - Apani B-Fly Emcee feat. 45

I can't think of many other songs that express the same sentiment as Be Thankful For What You Got - Massive Attack
posted by d11 at 6:49 AM on April 21, 2012


Don't Worry Be Happy
posted by crocomancer at 6:55 AM on April 21, 2012


The song "Everything's All right" from Jesus Christ Superstar:

Try not to get worried
Try not to turn on to
Problems that upset you
Don't you know
Everything's all right
Yes, everything's fine
And we want you to sleep well tonight.
Let the world turn without you tonight.

posted by cider at 7:09 AM on April 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


This Must Be the Place (naive melody) - Talking Heads
posted by benbenson at 7:21 AM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Put It There - Paul McCartney
The Day Is Done - Peter Paul and Mary
Right Field - Peter Paul and Mary
The Closing of the Year - Wendy & Lisa feat. Seal
All the King's Men - Tom Cochrane feat. Tara MacLean
Forever Young - Rod Stewart
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:29 AM on April 21, 2012


You Gotta Be - Desiree

Love Song - Tesla

Hand in My Pocket - Alanis Morissette

I'm Still Standing - Elton John

I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor

Just A Ride - Jem

Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield

Times Like These - Foo Fighters

Beautiful Day - U2

If your friend has any inclinations towards Christianity, he might find this song comforting: By Your Side - Tenth Avenue North

posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:32 AM on April 21, 2012


Here's another bird themed song!
The littlest birds by the Be Good Tanyas
posted by msali at 7:51 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Learn to Live with What You Are - Ben Folds
posted by halsted at 8:00 AM on April 21, 2012


My go-to for this sort of thing is still Calling All Angels, and this version is great.
posted by Bron at 8:10 AM on April 21, 2012


Feeling Stronger Every Day - Chicago
Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
Shiny Happy People - R.E.M.
posted by carmicha at 8:12 AM on April 21, 2012


This question on happy music might have some good suggestions also.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:20 AM on April 21, 2012


The Middle By Jimmy Eat World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKsxPW6i3pM


Hey, don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just try your best, try everything you can
And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away

It just takes some time
Little girl you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be alright, alright
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 8:23 AM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


In my opinion, the most comforting songs are the ones without lyrics:

Bladerunner, Love theme

Company of Myself, Kathryn
posted by Thisispiggy at 8:58 AM on April 21, 2012


"I'm Still Standing" by Elton John, already mentioned, is my go-to song for this.

A few guilty pleasures:
Stronger - Britney Spears
I'm Gonna Be Alright - Jennifer Lopez featuring 50 Cent (I like this version better than the one with Nas)
Survivor - Destiny's Child
Fighter - Christina Aguilera
posted by SisterHavana at 9:28 AM on April 21, 2012


These are amazing! Thank you so much. I'm especially interested in the uptempo stuff, like "I Can See Clearly Now" and Jem's "Just a Ride" (never heard of her before-- thanks so much!)

All these suggestions are so great!
posted by airguitar2 at 9:57 AM on April 21, 2012


Here's the one I reach for when my love is feeling down: Mason Jennings - Be Here Now. It's a goodun.
posted by Scientist at 10:00 AM on April 21, 2012


Also:
The Only Way Is Up - Yazz
Champion - RuPaul
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) - Kelly Clarkson
posted by SisterHavana at 10:02 AM on April 21, 2012


Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Simon and Garfunkel
posted by mermayd at 10:16 AM on April 21, 2012


Cosign on the Mountain Goats "This Year"

Lauryn Hill "Everything Is Everything"
Curtis Mayfield "Move On Up"
posted by citron at 10:29 AM on April 21, 2012


Dobie Gray's Drift Away (NOT the warbly Uncle Kracker version)

Beatles' Any Time at All

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain't No Mountain High Enough

2nding Foo Fighters' Times Like These, there's also an acoustic version.

Other Foo songs for this purpose could be Ain't It the Life, and Miracle.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:44 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Zombies - This Will be our Year (if romantic overtones are okay)
P.P. Arnold - Everything's Gonna be Alright
posted by hydrophonic at 11:01 AM on April 21, 2012


It's impossible to listen to "You Can't Stop the Beat" from the musical "Hairspray" and not feel energized and happy- or get up and dance.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:23 AM on April 21, 2012


A lot of my faves have been mentioned already, but here's a few more:

Kimya Dawson - My Rollercoaster
Mint Royale/Lauren Laverne - Don't Falter
I'm from Barcelona - We're from Barcelona
The Barbarians - Moulty
Piney Gir - The Love of Others
Jackie Wilson - Higher and Higher
Frente! - Accidently Kelly Street
Malcolm Middleton - We're all going to die
Postal Service - Such Great Heights

And finally - this never fails to make me smile.

Eric & Ernie - Bring me Sunshine
posted by nailest at 12:12 PM on April 21, 2012


This version of Smile always makes me feel comforted.

Also Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing and Come In From the Rain.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:13 PM on April 21, 2012


Richie Havens - Follow
posted by captain cosine at 12:56 PM on April 21, 2012


There's some wonderful songs here. I've been listening. I've put together a spotify playlist, if anyone's inspired to add anything else:

http://open.spotify.com/user/nailest/playlist/5pKBe90cGaj4SENIjcla6k
posted by nailest at 1:38 PM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


As a child of the 90s I am legally obligated to recommend What I Got for this.

"I'll Fly Away" is an old country gospel standard, and just stirring and encouraging as fuck if you don't mind your encouragement in a metaphorical death-and-resurrection-type format. I'm partial to Reverend Gary Davis's version, which manages to be stirring and deep and still somehow still perky, there's just no other word for it, all at the same time.

Some others that do the trick for me:
Stan Rogers — the Mary Ellen Carter
James Brown — Repeat The Beat (Faith)
Davis Sisters — We'll understand it better by and by
Ben Folds — Jane
Talking Heads — Pulled Up
Gillian Welch — Acony Bell
Shades of Blue — Oh How Happy
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:50 PM on April 21, 2012


The Be Good Tanyas - Littlest Birds
posted by ljesse at 2:00 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


My question was a little different, but you might mine it for your own purposes. I had dug up an iTunes song list called "Positivity" that might have some music that works.
posted by moira at 4:03 PM on April 21, 2012


I'll admit I'm a little light on examples, but this song helps me get though some tough times.

That said, I generally find that it's more about the overall feel of the song that I listen to than the actual lyrics. It might just be me, but I think it's an overall vibe, not necessarily something "positive and uplifting." Whatever makes you happy, regardless of the lyrics necessarily, is what you should go with.
posted by brbarnett at 9:22 PM on April 21, 2012


Matisyahu: Hanukkah

Matisyahu has a pretty positive message just in general.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 9:55 PM on April 21, 2012


And more!

Hold On - Wilson Phillips
Lovely Day - Bill Withers
Wig In A Box - from Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Don't Look Back - Boston
Don't Look Back - Fine Young Cannibals (not the same song as above!)
Things Can Only Get Better - Howard Jones
Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile) - Van Morrison
posted by SisterHavana at 12:11 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out
Josh Groban - You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)
posted by keep it under cover at 1:24 AM on April 22, 2012


Midge Ure, Hope in the Morning Light

And even though it has become totally overused for movie trailers, Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root always makes me feel good.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:53 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is mine and my husband's song, many a tricky time have we turned to Little Milton's We're gonna make it.
posted by Augenblick at 11:58 AM on April 22, 2012


Dido, Thank You
posted by lovingkindness at 6:39 AM on April 23, 2012


I am always soothed by "Nevermind" by Wes Cunningham. Lyric quoting from memory:

if those assholes call you names, nevermind, nevermind
what do they know anyway, they were never friends of mine
and if they hurt you they hurt me, who cares if they don't see what I see, baby

I'm with you now, I am you now

if you don't know what to do, nevermind, nevermind
God is watching over you all the time, all the time
and if the circumstances overwhelm you, nevermind, nevermind

I'm with you now, I am you now

if those assholes call you names, nevermind, nevermind
what do they know anyway, they were never friends of mine
posted by nicebookrack at 8:43 PM on April 23, 2012


Camper Van Beethoven - Life is Grand
The Impressions - Keep on Pushing, We're a Winner
posted by hydrophonic at 10:13 PM on April 23, 2012


Thanks to @nailest for putting together the Spotify list! Subscribing NOW.
posted by THAT William Mize at 6:56 AM on April 24, 2012


I know I'm late to this but if h's not feling better yet try Better Things by the Kinks. My very favourite pick-me-up song.
posted by Dorothia at 8:04 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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